Four games into the season the Pistons are winless with the team's problems both clear and predictable.
The offense is the fourth worst in the league. While Rodney Stuckey's abysmal start would have been impossible to predict, the offense has often looked disjointed, particularly among the starters. It's nice to see Brandon Knight take some clear steps forward with bringing his assist to turnover ratio over 2, however he's turned the ball over even more than last year and he still seems to lack confidence when the offense gets off track.
The defense is equally awful. Teams are putting up the fourth-most points per game, shooting the sixth-best percentage. However outside James Harden's fantastic showing on opening night, it's hard to single out anyone in particular to blame. Rather, it's more of a general sense that opposing teams are able to have their way with the Pistons and there's a lack of defensive playmakers to turn that around.
Worst of all is the rebounding. The Pistons are by far worst in the league with a rebounding differential of -13 and are particularly overmatched on the defensive glass, last night giving up 21 offensive rebounds.
So the team stinks at offense, defense, and rebounding. That's certainly a problem. But even worse is that the pieces aren't available for a realistic fix.
Will Bynum has at least improved his form from last year and is looking like an NBA-caliber player, but too often he falls into the style of play that once earned him the MFWB moniker. What the team actually needs from its backup point guard is a steady hand. The rebounding and defensive issues clearly stem from the frontcourt's lack of size. When your primary power forward is the height of many shooting guards and his backup is a small forward, that happens.
Both of these things should have been addressed before the season started. The need for a mentor and veteran presence to help Knight along was glaringly obvious to even the most casual observer. However the issues with the frontcourt are even more egregious, as two players who could provide solutions were dismissed in Vernon Macklin and Ben Wallace.
There are enough bright spots to inspire some optimism with how the rookies have performed and the future of a Monroe-Drummond pairing. But as a fan, I'm getting rather tired of squinting and hoping at a disjointed, poorly constructed roster. The onus should be on Dumars to provide a coach with the pieces to field a team that lives up to a fraction of its potential.
Additional notes from last night's game:
• Drummond's box score looks like it should have warranted extended minutes, 3-3 with a couple of rebounds and assists -- including his first career three-pointer, which came on an expiring shot clock. It seems like his time on the bench was due to some defensive and blocking out failures. Still no sign of the Moose-Drummond pairing.
• Villanueva made his first appearance of the season. Thankfully it only lasted 4.4 seconds at the end of the first half.
• Starter lineup's field goal percentage for the season: 37%. Bench's field goal percentage for the season: 50%.
• Through the first four games, Jonas Jerebko has arguably been the best player. He deserves some more playing time.